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NHS Faces ‘Diabetes Time Bomb’

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Findings from an audit across England and Wales suggest that the NHS faces a “diabetes time bomb.”

The report found that 800,000 diabetes patients have elevated blood sugar levels which could lead to kidney failure, limb amputation and stroke.

Alarmingly, many of the patients were young or middle aged and could need “substantial hospital care in a matter of years”. Nearly 300,000 people were at “high risk” and 144,000 were at “dangerously high risk” in the ‘under 55’ age category.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends those with diabetes receive nine checks annually. These include blood sugar levels, whether they are smoking, and an assessment of damage to the eyes or feet. The study showed that only 32% of patients with Type 1 diabetes and 53% of patients with Type 2 received all nine tests.

Dr Bob Young, consultant diabetologist and clinical lead for the National Diabetes Information Service, said: “These results ring alarm bells.

“They show that younger people make up a quarter of all those with diabetes yet have the highest risks of potentially preventable complications. If these risks could be reduced, much future disability and shortened life expectancy could be prevented.”

Dr Rowan Hillson, National Clinical Director for Diabetes, said: “I am very concerned that the National Diabetes Audit shows that we still have a long way to go in delivering basic standards of diabetes care for everyone. In particular, young and middle-aged people with diabetes are not getting the regular checks they need. These checks are vital to reduce serious but avoidable complications.”

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